dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj, ˈdis-ˌ\

Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to relieve of a charge, load, or burden:

a : unload discharge a cargo ship

b : to release from an obligation will be discharged from further payment

c electrical engineering : to release electrical energy from (something, such as a battery or capacitor) by a discharge (see discharge entry 2 sense 9b) discharging electricity from a battery

2a : to let or put off discharge passengers discharge cargo

b : shoot discharge an arrow

c : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a prisoner discharge a patient

d : to give outlet or vent to : emit discharge emotions vehicles discharging exhaust fumes

3a(1) : to dismiss from employment had to discharge several employees last month

(2) : to release from service or duty discharge a soldier was discharged from the Navy

b : to get rid of (something, such as a debt or obligation) by performing an appropriate action (such as payment) failing to discharge their debts

c law : to set aside or dismiss : annul discharge a court order

d : to order (a legislative committee) to end consideration of a bill (see bill entry 4 sense 6) in order to bring it before the house (see house entry 1 sense 6a) for action

4 : to bear and distribute (something, such as the weight of a wall above an opening)

5 : to bleach out or remove (color or dye) in dyeing and printing textiles

6 : to cancel the record of the loan of (a library book) upon return

intransitive verb

1a : to throw off or deliver a load, charge, or burden

b : to release electrical energy by a discharge (see discharge entry 2 sense 9b) ensure that the electricity discharges safely

2a : go off, fire used of a gun His weapon discharged .

b : spread, run some dyes discharge

c : to pour forth fluid or other contents where the river discharges into the ocean


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj, dis-ˈ\

Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of relieving of something that oppresses : release

b : something that discharges or releases especially : a certification of release or payment produced the discharge as evidence

2 : the state of being discharged or relieved

3 : the act of discharging or unloading her discharge from the hospital

4 law : release from confinement a record of prison discharges

5 : a firing off the discharge of a weapon

6a : a flowing or issuing out a discharge of spores a discharge of mucus also : a rate of flow controlling the discharge of water

b : something that is emitted a purulent discharge a clear discharge from the eyes and nose

7 law : the act of removing an obligation or liability (see liability sense 2) received a full discharge from his creditors

8a : release or dismissal especially from an office or employment suing for wrongful discharge

b : complete separation from military service her discharge from the Navy an honorable discharge

9a physics : the equalization of a difference of electric potential (see potential entry 2 sense 2c) between two points

b energy engineering : the conversion of the chemical energy of a battery into electrical energy

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Other Words from discharge


dischargeable \ -​jə-​bəl \ adjective
dischargee \ (ˌ)dis-​ˌchär-​ˈjē \ noun
discharger \ dis-​ˈchär-​jər , ˈdis-​ˌ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for discharge


perform, execute, discharge, accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill mean to carry out or into effect. perform implies action that follows established patterns or procedures or fulfills agreed-upon requirements and often connotes special skill. performed gymnastics execute stresses the carrying out of what exists in plan or in intent. executed the hit-and-run discharge implies execution and completion of appointed duties or tasks. discharged his duties accomplish stresses the successful completion of a process rather than the means of carrying it out. accomplished everything they set out to do achieve adds to accomplish the implication of conquered difficulties. achieve greatness effect adds to achieve an emphasis on the inherent force in the agent capable of surmounting obstacles. effected sweeping reforms fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities. fulfilled their ambitions

Examples of discharge in a Sentence


She's due to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. We had to discharge several employees last week. Thousands of soldiers were discharged after the war. The judge discharged the jury. The ship discharged missiles against enemy targets. The gun failed to discharge.


The doctors approved her discharge from the hospital. Several former employees are suing the company for wrongful discharge. After his discharge from the military, he went to college to become a teacher. The damage was caused by accidental discharge of a hunting rifle. a rapid discharge from a gun
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Seven of the eight patients have been hospitalized, and one has been discharged, officials said. Carl Campanile, Fox News, "Legionnaires' outbreak sickens 8 in NYC," 13 July 2018 He was taken to John Paul II hospital, but has since been discharged. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "George Clooney Injured in Motorcycle Accident in Italy," 10 July 2018 The show centers on Adams’ character Camille Preaker, a reporter struggling with mental illness and self-harm who had recently been discharged from a psychiatric facility. refinery29.com, "Sharp Objects Will Have End Cards For Its Potentially Triggering Content," 7 July 2018 The captain of that boat, Ron Watson, has been discharged from a hospital in Nassau, the capital of Bahama, after receiving treatment there, CNN reported. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "She 'danced her whole childhood.' Then she lost both of her legs in a boat explosion," 2 July 2018 Police said in a tweet around 1:30 p.m. that an officer had discharged a weapon in the 3400 block of Tidwell near U.S. 59. Norman Gomlak, Houston Chronicle, "Houston police officer apparently fires weapon at robbery suspect, no one injured," 22 June 2018 Isaiah Washington Isaiah Washington was a starring member of the ABC medical drama during its first three seasons before being discharged after using a gay slur against co-star T.R. Knight. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "'Roseanne' ignites memories of past cancellations, firings of TV stars," 29 May 2018 The city must adopt either the state document or the county documents to maintain compliance with state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements, which regulates points where pollutants are discharged into national water systems. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Lilburn adopts Gwinnett stormwater manual," 10 Jan. 2018 The alternative to a septic system is a sewer treatment system, which manages storm water and runs sewage through a multipart cleaning process before discharging it into the water. Lara Korte, WSJ, "Developers Go With the Flow as New Water Rules Kick In," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the lake has been slowly recovering since 1996, when the Lake Apopka Restoration Act was signed into law, providing money to buy farms blamed for harmful discharge, a cleanup headed by St. Johns River Water Management District. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Winter Garden buys lakefront properties, envisions 'nicest park on Lake Apopka'," 8 June 2018 The 29-year-old had faced up to 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to Stars and Stripes. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Army soldier found guilty of cutting straps, sending Humvees plummeting from plane during training exercise," 10 May 2018 Roughly one in three patients visit emergency rooms for mental health issues within one month of discharge, another measure used to determine whether treatment was effective. Fred Clasen-kelly And Cassie Cope, charlotteobserver, "Kids in psych center say staff abused and raped them. Why didn’t officials listen?," 9 Feb. 2018 The discharge of what are called tailings, the leftovers of mineral extraction, is perfectly legal under Freeport’s current contract with the government. Danielle Bochove, Bloomberg.com, "Giant Waste-Spewing Mine Turns Into a Battleground in Indonesia," 5 June 2018 Other adverse events include a bankruptcy discharge, wage garnishment, tax lien or foreclosure during the five previous years. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Students aren't the only ones crushed by school debt," 11 July 2018 High-intensity-discharge headlights with automatic high beams are included at this level along with LED daytime running lights. G. Chambers Williams Iii, Houston Chronicle, "Toyota Sienna gets some upgrades for 2018, including new front end," 7 July 2018 All 377 lightning discharges recorded in Juno’s first eight flybys struck in the Earth-like megahertz and gigahertz range. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Jupiter’s Lightning Is More Earth-Like Than We Thought," 8 June 2018 Wahl published a paper in Nature Communications in 2015 on the effects of compound flooding, which is when increased river discharge, precipitation and storm surges happen at the same time. Jen Schwartz, Scientific American, "National Flood Insurance Is Underwater Because of Outdated Science," 23 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discharge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of discharge


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for discharge


Middle English, from Anglo-French descharger, from Late Latin discarricare, from Latin dis- + Late Latin carricare to load — more at charge


see discharge entry 1

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Statistics for discharge

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discharge

The first known use of discharge was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for discharge



English Language Learners Definition of discharge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to allow (someone) to leave a hospital, prison, etc.

: to take away the job of (someone) : to end the employment of (someone)

: to end the service of (someone) in a formal or official way : to release (someone) from duty



English Language Learners Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

: the release of someone from a hospital, prison, etc.

: the act of firing or dismissing someone from a job

: the act of ending a person's service to the military


dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj \
discharged; discharging

Kids Definition of discharge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to allow to leave or get off The patient was discharged from the hospital.

2 : to dismiss from service discharge a worker

3 : to free of a load or burden : unload discharge a ship

4 : shoot entry 1 sense 2 discharge a gun

5 : to cause to shoot out of discharge a bullet

6 : to pour forth fluid or other contents The chimney discharged smoke.

7 : to get rid of by paying or doing discharge a debt He discharged his responsibilities.


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Kids Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the release of someone from a place The doctor approved her discharge from the hospital.

2 : the release from a duty or debt

3 : a certificate of release or payment

4 : the act of firing a person from a job

5 : an end of a person's military service

6 : an act of firing off a gun's discharge

7 : something that flows out The discharge was coming from a pipe.


dis·​charge | \dis(h)-ˈchärj, ˈdis(h)-ˌ \
discharged; discharging

Medical Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a patient from the hospital

2a : to give outlet to or emit a boil discharging pus

b : to release or give expression to (a pent-up emotion or a repressed impulse) discharged his anxiety by working out with a punching bag

intransitive verb

: to pour forth fluid or other contents


dis·​charge | \ˈdis(h)-ˌchärj, dis(h)-ˈ \

Medical Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of relieving of something discharge of a repressed impulse

2 : release from confinement, custody, or care returned to work the day after discharge from the hospital

3 : something that is emitted or evacuated a purulent discharge from a wound a thick white vaginal discharge

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transitive verb
dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj, ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Legal Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to release from an obligation: as

a : to relieve of a duty under an instrument (as a contract or a negotiable instrument) also : to render (an instrument) no longer enforceable a formal instrument…may be discharged by either cancellation or surrender — J. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

b : to release (a debtor in bankruptcy) from liability for his or her debts

2 : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a prisoner

3a : to dismiss from employment : terminate the employment of

b : to release from service or duty discharge a jury discharge a witness

4a : to get rid of (as a debt or obligation) by performing an appropriate action

b : to fulfill a requirement for evidence which is required to discharge the burden of going forward— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

5 : to order (a legislative committee) to end consideration of a bill in order to bring it before the house for action

Other Words from discharge

dischargeability \ dis-​ˌchär-​jə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
dischargeable \ dis-​ˈchär-​jə-​bəl \ adjective


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Legal Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of relieving of something that burdens or oppresses : release

b : something that discharges or releases especially : a certification of or a document proving release or payment

2 : the state of being discharged or released a party seeking a total discharge

3 : release from confinement ordering a conditional discharge of the alien on habeas corpusHarvard Law Review

4 : the act of removing an obligation or liability (as by payment of a debt or performance of a duty)

5a : a dismissal from employment or office

constructive discharge

: discharge of an employee effected by making the employee's working conditions so intolerable that he or she reasonably feels compelled to resign

retaliatory discharge

: a wrongful discharge that is done in retaliation for an employee's conduct (as reporting an employer's criminal activity) and that clearly violates public policy

wrongful discharge

: discharge of an employee for illegal reasons or for reasons that are contrary to public policy (as in retaliation for the employee's refusal to engage in unlawful activity)

b : a release from service or duty

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Comments on discharge

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playful or foolish behavior

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